Patient Resources

What is trauma?

Trauma is any physical injury caused by violence or other forces.  Serious trauma can add to death or disability. There are three types of physical trauma—burns, blunt trauma which is caused by impact or other force with a blunt object, and penetrating trauma which occurs when the skin or tissue is pierced by an object.


What is a trauma center?

Trauma centers are specially equipped hospitals, specializing in caring for seriously injured children and adults. Trauma center care guarantees the immediate availability of specialized medical personnel and equipment. The goal of a trauma center is to quickly identify injuries and begin life-saving treatment.

An integrated trauma program covers all phases of care including:
•    Prehospital care
•    Resuscitation and stabilization in the Emergency Department
•    Surgical care if required
•    Inpatient critical care and specialty care
•    Rehabilitation
•    Injury prevention

Why a trauma center?

Good trauma care depends on getting the right patient to the right place at the right time.  The right place is determined by matching the patient’s needs with the appropriate trauma-trained professional.  The trauma center is the most appropriate medical facility for treating seriously injured children. The trauma center begins with prehospital care and continues until rehabilitation of injuries and discharge.

What is the difference between a Level I and Level II trauma center?

Penn State Hershey is the only Level I trauma center in South Central Pennsylvania. Because of the large personnel and facility resources needed for patient care, education, and research, most Level I trauma centers in the United States are affiliated with university teaching hospitals. A Level l trauma center is a regional resource facility and has the capability to provide total care for all aspects of trauma, from prevention through rehabilitation. The Level I center participates in trauma research and sponsors public and provider programs.

Level I trauma centers in Pennsylvania must treat a minimum of 600 patients per year. This is due to data that shows a correlation between patient outcome and the number of procedures which a surgeon performs annually.  Adequate experience with life-threatening cases is necessary for the trauma team to maintain its skills. Cost effectiveness is also a consideration.

Level II trauma centers are also expected to provide definitive trauma care, regardless of the severity of the injury. Level II trauma centers have most of the clinical capabilities of Level I centers. Level II trauma centers must treat a minimum of 350 patients per year.